Slice of Life Day 22

There are still nineteen school days between me and spring break. We have not had a day off since President’s Day weekend.

A late Easter and Passover is awful when it comes to getting spring break. The perfect time is at the end of March. It’s just far enough away from President’s Day and when you go back to school you can start the 4th marking period.

This year we will come back after break and it will almost be May!

But for now, teachers and students are exhausted. Spring break can’t come soon enough for everyone!


Slice of Life Day 21

It’s March Madness time!!!! It’s my favorite time of the year. Dozens upon dozens of gages this weekend, with games overlapping on multiple channels. My three brackets updating with wins and losses. Me, sitting on the couch, yelling at my TV as I cheer for teams I never watch outside of the tournament.

It’s seriously the best. I love the stories, the Cinderellas, the dreams achieved, and the tears shed. It’s a perfect day today, gray and rainy outside, to park myself on the couch and watch the games. So far, so good in my brackets!

Slice of Life Day 20

Today’s slice is a thread I wrote on Twitter about social media and teens.


I’ve spent a lot of time the past few days thinking abt social media + how it influences teens. My students read this article yesterday and had a great discussion about ideas that are introduced as a joke and then become discussion-worthy on social media

One of the sticking points in their discussion was that Youtubers like Pewdiepie, who has been called out for racist and anti-semitic words, is just entertainment. They compared him and others to South Park and similar controversial TV shows from the 90s-00s.
There were a variety of opinions about whether all teens (and kids even younger) can differentiate between good and bad satire. But what most agreed on was that the level of access is so different today.
When South Park debuted you had to watch it live (after 10pm) or illegally download it later. Downloading it could take hours (or days!). And there were a limited number of episodes.
Youtube is available 24/7 with almost no restrictions. Instead of watching an episode of a controversial TV show, a viewer can watch hours of videos with almost no controls placed on them.
Today’s teens don’t know a world w/o 24/7 access to all the information in the world, including some of the darkest ideas being spread. I, however, do see a difference between then and now. Some teens do make jokes, like Pewdiepie’s, and become indignant if someone gets upset.
But those jokes become normalized. And then it’s a problem. I feel like the trajectory from “joke”—->normalization is a million times faster and easier today thanks to social media.

Most of my teens recognize that, but they don’t know what to do. They pointed out Youtube has demonetized antivax videos. Some applauded the decision; others thought it was stupid. However, they universally understood the danger of spreading antivax ideas.

But antivax ideas have clear, physical ramifications. Things like the normalization of replacement theory are more abstract. It’s much harder to see, especially for teens.
I don’t have a solution, but it was a fascinating conversation and there’s a clear divide between generations (in my experience). One thing we all agreed on was that extremist ideas are no longer confined to the dark corners of the internet. You can find them in plain sight.
We need to teach kids how to think critically abt media, but media needs to expand beyond the adult ideas of newspapers, 24/7 cable news, etc. Media is Youtube, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Reddit, etc for kids and they access some of these sites before kindergarten.
And they often access them without parent supervision. When the Momo challenge articles were going around I was shocked by the number of parents, with very young kids, who allowed unrestricted access to Youtube Kids.
These adults were shocked when they played around on Youtube kids and found stuff they did not want their kids watching. As adults, we need to stop trusting algorithms. They aren’t perfect.
But we also need to start talking about social media way before kids turn 13. We don’t let kids drive until they have a license, so why do we think they will instinctively know how to make smart social media choices without training?
I know way too many adults who don’t want to talk about social media with kids because it’s too dangerous, scary, unknown, hard, or a million other things. But we have to stop it with the excuses. Social media literacy is 21st-century literacy.
Many kids and teens spend more time on social media than they do in school . According to Common Sense Media, teens spend 9 hours a day online. Social media is where they form their ideas about themselves, their peers, current events, science, culture, and everything else.
They spend more time on social media than on reading books, being outside, watching TV, or hanging out with friends (in real life). We have to stop ignoring social media in our curricula.
I also know a lot of parents and teachers who assume their kids know everything there is to know about social media. Or “they know more than me”. There are resources out there to help! Ask your librarian, your child’s school, and other parents.
If you are really overwhelmed, get your kid a “dumb” phone, put the computer in a heavily-trafficked area of the house, + make your kids go outside instead of online. (My master’s project focused on nature deficit disorder in teens, so more time outside is always my answer!).
Teachers, make social media a part of your curriculum. When you teach students how to find credible sources talk abt Reddit, Youtube, + Twitter. Instead of saying “you can’t cite that!” (which is a gross generalization), talk about how they should analyze info from those sites.
It’s imperative that we talk abt consuming social media as entertainment, too. When we teach students abt satire we need to talk abt bad satire. We need to look at Youtubers + bloggers who publish satire. What works? What doesn’t? Why is it important to know the difference?
Because guess what? Our kids are watching/reading/talking about some of these idea that “just a joke”, but they need to understand what the implications are. It’s our job as adults to help them with that.
Lest anyone think I’m a Luddite, I’ve been
-blogging since ’07
-on Twitter since ’08
I’m a regular user of Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, etc. I first logged on to AOL at 10/11. The HS I attended had its own BBS. I used AIM exclusively to communicate in college. I love social media!
But I firmly believe we are doing our students a massive disservice by pretending social media doesn’t exist. Or that the only things to be worried about are sexting (YES SUPER IMPORTANT!) and creating a positive digital footprint.
Kids are creating AND consuming on social media. They need guidance on the consumption side, too.
Final thought (for now): we can’t let social media companies off the hook, either. But until they figure out how to handle this mess we need to arm kids with the knowledge to critically consume social media while being a part of the future of social media.

Slice of Life Day 19

Somewhere in those trees is a screech owl. He or she has been trilling at dusk for the last two weeks or so. I can’t see it, but I love listening to its song! Even the dogs stop and listen when it calls.

The screech owl is a new resident in our yard. We have a pair of great horned owls that live in the county park across the street, and we frequently hear them hooting back and forth from December to June. I’m assuming they are a mated pair. But the screech owl just moved in. I did some research and learned that screech owls have a small territory and tend to stick around if they find food: mice, voles, frogs, and even bugs. We certainly have all of those in the backyard!

I’m hoping to put up a nesting box to convince the screech owl to make its home here. If food is plentiful it should keep hunting here, and I’m very ok with it eating our mice!

One of the reasons I love living across the street from a county park is because we get so many cool birds. The forest across the street provides great habitat and the resident birds will often venture across the street. The owls are my favorite!

Slice of Life Day 18

Today I started a new book on my way home from school.  I listen to audiobooks on my commute, but for the past few days none of my library books have been available.  During that time I caught up on Season 2 of Monster, a podcast, which is focused on the Zodiac Killer this time around.

But today I got an email that my audiobook version of My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite was ready.  I’ve been looking forward to reading this because it’s supposed to be darkly funny.  Luckily, it hasn’t disappointed in that area!  Korede and Ayoola are sisters who live in Lagos, Nigeria.  Ayoola is the younger, prettier, more popular sister.  She’s also killed her last three boyfriends’s and Korede, the good big sister that she is, has helped her clean up every time.  I’m about halfway through the book (I listened to it while walking the dogs and doing laundry, too) and I highly recommend it!

I’ve listened to a few other great audiobooks over the past few weeks.  Most recently, I finished The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin, which might have my favorite last chapter.  Before that I listened to Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb.  If you are at all interested in American history and/or ecosystems, it’s a fascinating look at the important role beavers play in our lives.

I’m on the waiting list for something like 25 additional audiobooks, many of which I’ve recommended to the library thanks to Overdrive.  At the rate I’m going, I’ll finish My Sister, the Serial Killer in the next day or so, so I hope another one is available soon!  One of the libraries I belong to has a setting where I can see an estimated date for a book’s availability; right now, I have about 8 weeks until some of them reach me.  And that’s why I belong to two local libraries!

Slice of Life Day 17

Slainte! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We celebrated a low-key St. Patrick’s Day with some corned beef for dinner after a relaxing day.

My day started with SAT prep class followed by an info session for families interested in the summer session. I finished our weekly food shopping yesterday, so after work I ran a few errands: TJMaxx, Target (to make a return), and DSW (for a package of no-show socks).

When I got home Chris was doing yard work; he made his first attempts at grafting our apple trees yesterday and did the annual apple tree pruning. Today he had to grind up all the extra cut branches. While he did his yard work I cleaned out our hall closet and set up the mantel for spring. Oh, and I put our last few Christmas decorations in the attic. Oops! Then I spent an inordinate amount of time researching Rothys and trying to figure out if I should try their loafers as part of my Lenten focus on making more sustainable choices. I still haven’t decided.

Do you have any of the sustainable shoe brands like Rothys or Allbirds? Any suggestions?

Slice of Life Day 16

Today was a lazy day. So lazy that I won’t hit my 10000 step goal according to my Fitbit, and that never happens!

The reason for my laziness today is that when I woke up Dublin was limping. When Chris came home from the gym we figured it Dublin must have tweaked a muscle chasing a rabbit in the yard first thing this morning.

We still went to canine fitness class because I figured stretching and balancing is always good. Wouldn’t you know, Dublin didn’t limp at class! He’s a bit of a drama queen, so he has still been limping off and on all day, but he seems to be on the mend. He limps when I’m around but barely limps in front of Chris.

Needless to say, we didn’t do any long walks today. I iced Dublin’s foot, and we just hung out. Sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered!

Dublin with his ice pack